Major trends of Psychosomatic Medicine in North Africa and Middle East

  • Tarek A. Okasha


This chapter will discuss the development and trends in psychosomatic medicine in North Africa and the Middle East with special emphasis on Egypt as a representative for this geographical area. Ancient Pharonic Egyptian medicine, interestingly, did not recognize the specificity of mental disorders. They attributed all mental phenomena to disorders in the heart or the uterus. There was no differentiation between psyche and soma and hence there was no stigma for mental illness. In the Islamic culture, the humanitarian interaction with a doctor is valued as much, if not more, than his or her technical ability or scientific knowledge. The humanitarian nature of this interaction depends on the way the doctor deals with the patient and his or her family and the extent to which the doctor expresses respect for and acceptance of local cultural and spiritual norms. The role of emotional expression and the understanding and dealing with disease is different between traditional and non-traditional societies, also the belief and role of suicide in both the Pharonic and Islamic era will be discussed. Finally, research and presentations of psychosomatic disorders and somatic symptoms of psychiatry will be reviewed.


Pharonic psychiatry Ancient Egypt Islam and mental disorders Traditional societies Non-traditional societies Emotional expression suicide Islamic culture 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tarek A. Okasha
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, World Psychiatric Association Collaborating Centre for Training and Research in PsychiatryCairoEgypt
  2. 2.President Egyptian Alzheimer SocietyCairoEgypt

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